SAARC meet cancelled over Taliban participation; Qatar urges world not to boycott Afghan government

Source: ANI | Published on 22nd September 2021, 12:05 PM | Global News | Don't Miss |

NEW DELHI: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) foreign ministers meet slated to be held on Saturday in New York has been cancelled. It is learnt from reliable sources that Pakistan wanted the Taliban to represent Afghanistan in the SAARC meet.

India along with some other members objected to the proposal and due to lack of consensus or concurrence meet has been cancelled. Nepal was the host of the meet, which is annually held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Taliban has not been recognised by India to date. The new regime in Kabul is still not recognised by the world and top cabinet ministers are blacklisted by the UN. Amir Khan Muttaqi is the acting foreign minister of the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan and he is unlikely to attend any UN and affiliated meetings.

In fact, last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meet said that the Taliban is a non-inclusive government, the world must think before accepting or recognising the regime in Afghanistan.

He also pointed out that women, minorities have no representation in the government in Kabul. The SAARC is the regional intergovernmental organization of eight countries of South Asia--Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

It is learnt that the majority of members in SAARC agreed that empty chair can be kept for Afghanistan during the meet. However, Pakistan did not agree and the meet was called off. SAARC Secretariat told ANI that the meeting was cancelled due to the lack of concurrence from all member states as of today. 

The Taliban on Tuesday nominated their Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan's UN ambassador. This comes after the Taliban said that they wanted to address world leaders at United Nations, reported a UK-based media.

Meanwhile, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani urged world leaders not to boycott the Taliban, reported Al Jazeera. The ruling emir of Qatar urged world leaders gathered at the United Nations against turning their backs on Afghanistan's Taliban rulers.

Al Thani stressed, "the necessity of continuing dialogue with Taliban because boycott only leads to polarisation and reactions, whereas dialogue could bring in positive results".

The waving of sanctions on the Taliban is not on the UN Security Council agenda but the issue should be given careful consideration, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia told Sputnik on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"The topic of lifting the sanctions imposed on the Taliban via the Security Council is not on the agenda right now. Of course, this is an important issue, and sooner or later it will still have to be solved," Nebenzia said.

However, this issue should not be rushed as the situation must be carefully considered, according to the Russian official "I [can] say that practically all members of the Council, and not just the five members of its permanent members, have repeatedly, during their speeches on the topic of Afghanistan, talked about the cautious approach toward the new Afghan authorities," he added.

The ruling emir of Qatar, whose nation has played a pivotal role in Afghanistan in the wake of the US withdrawal, urged world leaders gathered at the United Nations against turning their backs on the country's Taliban rulers.

Speaking from the podium of the UN General Assembly Tuesday, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani stressed "the necessity of continuing dialogue with Taliban because boycott only leads to polarization and reactions, whereas dialogue could bring in positive results."

His warning was directed at the many heads of state worried about engaging with the Taliban and recognizing their takeover of Afghanistan.

The Taliban say they want international recognition. The group challenged the credentials of Afghanistan's former UN ambassador and are asking to speak at the UN General Assembly's high-level meeting of world leaders.

They say it is the responsibility of the United Nations to recognise their government and for other countries to have diplomatic relations with them. Senior State Department officials said they were aware of the Taliban's request as the US is a member of the UN credentials committee, but they would not predict how that panel might rule.

However, one of the officials said the committee "would take some time to deliberate," suggesting that the Taliban's envoy would not be able to speak at the General Assembly at this session, at least during the high-level leaders' week.

To date, no nation has yet formally recognized the Taliban's ascension by force to power or its all-male Cabinet, which is stacked with senior figures who were previously detained in the US detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba or are on a United Nations sanctions list.

The group has said this exclusively Taliban-run Cabinet is only interim, offering hope that a future government could be more inclusive.

In the spirit of diplomacy, Sheikh Tamim said Qatar agreed years ago to host the Taliban's political leadership in exile because "we were confident that war offers no solution and that there would be dialogue in the end."

Qatar is a close US ally and hosts the largest US military base in the Middle East, but the tiny Gulf Arab state also has some sway with the Taliban. Because of its unique role, Qatar hosted direct US-Taliban talks around the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and helped facilitate evacuations from Kabul.

Now, countries like the US and Japan have relocated their diplomatic staff in Afghanistan to Qatar to continue diplomacy from there. Qatar is also assisting with the facilitation of needed humanitarian aid and with operations at Kabul airport.

Sheikh Tamim on Tuesday urged against repeating past mistakes in Afghanistan "to impose a political system from outside". "Regardless of intentions, efforts made and money invested, this experience in Afghanistan has collapsed after 20 years," Sheikh Tamim said.

The 41-year-old leader said the international community must continue to support Afghanistan at this critical stage and "to separate humanitarian aid from political differences."

Afghanistan is among the world's poorest countries and receives billions of dollars in foreign aid a year, though that could change with the U.S.-backed government out of power and the Taliban now in charge.

Uzbekistan, another neighboring country to Afghanistan, has resumed the supply of oil and electricity to the war-torn country, according to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. "It is impossible to isolate Afghanistan and leave it within the range of its problems," he said in remarks at the UN on Tuesday.

He called for a permanent UN Committee on Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, Pakistan's foreign minister told reporters at UN headquarters that Taliban rulers should understand that if they want recognition and assistance in rebuilding the war-battered country "they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion and norms."

The top leadership of the Taliban for years has operated out of Pakistan, which shares a border with Afghanistan and is home to large numbers of Afghan refugees.

Despite their promises of an open and inclusive system, there have been numerous troubling signs that the Taliban are restricting women's rights and targeting activists and those they battled against as they settle into government after taking control of the capital of Kabul last month.

During their previous rule of Afghanistan in the 1990s, the Taliban had denied girls and women the right to education and barred them from public life.

Sheikh Tamim said it is up to the Afghan people to achieve a comprehensive political settlement and pave the way for stability.

He touted Qatar's outsized role in assisting with the chaotic US-led evacuation of more than 100,000 Afghans and others from Kabul in August.

"This was our humanitarian duty," he said.

(With PTI Inputs)

Read These Next